Emeric Pressburger (Imre József Emmerich Pressburger) was born in Miskolc, Hungary of Jewish heritage. He was the only son (he had one elder half-sister from his father's previous marriage) of Kálmán Pressburger, estate manager, and his second wife, Kätherina Wichs. He lived and attended school in Timisoara, an ethnic Hungarian region of Romania, called in Hungarian Temesvár, where he was a good student, excelling at mathematics, literature and music. He then studied mathematics and engineering at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart before his father's death forced him to abandon his studies.
He began a career as a journalist. After working in Hungary and Germany he turned to screenwriting in the late 1920s, working for UFA in Berlin (having moved there in 1926). The rise of the Nazis forced him to flee to Paris, where he again worked as screenwriter, and then to London. He later said, "the worst things that happened to me were the political consequences of events beyond my control ... the best things were exactly the same."
He entered Britain in 1935 on a stateless passport; once he decided to settle, he changed his name to Emeric in 1938. In England he found a small community of Hungarian film-makers who had fled the Nazis, including the influential Alexander Korda, owner of London Films, who employed him as a screenwriter. There he met film director Michael Powell, and they worked together on The Spy in Black (1939). Their partnership would produce some of the finest British films of the period.
On 24 June 1938 he married Agí Donáth, daughter of Antal Donáth, a general merchant, but they divorced in 1941. He married again, on 29 March 1947, to Wendy Orme, and they had a daughter, Angela, and another child who died as a baby in 1948; but this marriage also ended in divorce in Reno, Nevada in 1953 and in Britain in 1971. His daughter Angela's two sons both became successful film-makers: Andrew Macdonald as a producer on films such as Trainspotting (1996), and Kevin Macdonald as an Oscar-winning director. Kevin has written a biography of his grandfather, and a documentary about his life, The Making of an Englishman (1995).
Pressburger became a British citizen in 1946. He was made a Fellow of BAFTA in 1981, and a Fellow of the BFI in 1983.
Pressburger was a diffident and private person who, at times, particularly later on in his life, could be hypersensitive and prone to bouts of melancholia. He loved French cuisine, enjoyed music, and possessed a great sense of humour. In appearance he was short, wore glasses, and had a sagacious, bird-like facial expression. He was a keen supporter of Arsenal F.C., a passion he developed soon after arriving in Britain. In his later years he lived in Saxstead, Suffolk, England, where he died in a nursing home on 5 February 1988 of the complications of old age including pneumonia. His grave is at Our Lady of Grace Church cemetery in Aspall, Suffolk.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Emeric Pressburger', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 December 2008, 13:38 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Emeric_Pressburger&oldid=256415622>